In unshrouded axial turbine stages, a small but generally unavoidable clearance between the blade tips and the stationary outer seal allows a clearance gap leakage flow to be driven across the blade tip by the pressure-to-suction side pressure difference. In modern high temperature machines, the turbine blade tips are often a region prone to early failure because of the presence of hot gases in the gap and the resultant added convection heating that must be counteracted by active blade cooling. The blade tip region, particularly near the trailing edge, is often very difficult to cool adequately with blade internal coolant flow, and film cooling injection directly onto the blade tip region can be used in an attempt to directly reduce the heat transfer rates from the hot clearance flow to the blade tip. An experimental program has been designed and conducted to model and measure the effects of film coolant injection on convection heat transfer to turbine blade tips. The modeling approach follows earlier work that found the leakage flow to be mainly a pressure-driven flow related strongly to the the airfoil pressure loading distribution and only weakly, if at all, to the relative motion between blade tip and shroud. In the present work the clearance gap and blade tip region is thus modeled in stationary form with primary flow supplied to a narrow channel simulating the clearance gap above a plane blade tip. Secondary film flow is supplied to the tip surface through a line array of discrete normal injection holes near the upstream or pressure side. Both heat transfer and effectiveness are determined locally over the test surface downstream of injection through the use of thin liquid crystal coatings and a computer vision system over an extensive test matrix of clearance heights, clearance flow Reynolds numbers and film flowrates. The results of the study indicate that film injection near the pressure-side corner on plane turbine blade tips can provide significant protection from convection heat transfer to the tip from the hot clearance gap leakage flow.

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